Should you cross your arms in your headshot

April 27, 2018

Should you cross your arms in your headshot? No, you shouldn’t and here’s why.

There are times when crossed (or folded) arm work but only when it happens naturally. It happened this week I took a guy’s portrait and he crossed his arms quite naturally and it looked great. It worked because he did it without thinking, it looked natural and his personality came through but on the whole it looks a bit contrived and that’s why you should avoid doing it. Because your headshot is often the first introduction to you, make sure that your personality comes across so be as natural as possible which means you should avoid all the forced obvious poses, folded arms, first under the chin – all that sort of guff.

Have a look at these examples. This business woman asked if she though she should cross her arms in the picture. The reason she asked is because the folded arms thing is typical in so many portraits. My answer was “I don’t think so but let’s give it a try”. The reason for trying it was because you never know what might work and also because I didn’t want to say no – I though it would be better to try it and if it didn’t work show why.

We both agreed that the shot looks better without the arms folded. The main problem with folded arms is that the pose looks a bit forced or contrived. There’s also the body language problem too, closed arm being considered defensive and closed off, and if you’re wearing a suit for your headshot crossed arms can run the risk of looking a little self-important.

So, the answer to the question, ‘should you cross your arms in your headshot’ is more often than not, NO. But overall a headshot should be natural so there are times when it can work and the trick with a headsot is to look and feel as natural as possible so relax.


Should you fold your arms in your headshot?


Crossed arm portrait

Relaxed portrait



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